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Google has now removed over half a million URLs over ‘right to be forgotten’

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Google has announced it has removed over half a million web links from search results, under the European Union’s right be be forgotten laws.

In the latest transparency report, Google says it has received a 348,045 requests pertaining to information contained in 1,234,092 URLs.

As a result of manual investigations into the requests, Google has removed 42 per cent of those URLs, which works out at around 518,000.

In the UK, Google received 162,371 requests resulting in 43,101 takedowns. At 38.1 per cent that’s a little lower than the average across the EU.

Topping the pile for the website urls actually purged from search is Facebook with over 10,000 removed pages, while Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Twitter also feature heavily. The top 10 sites accounted for 9 per cent of all of the removals.

The right to be forgotten law came into play in May 2014 and allows EU citizens to request search engines remove information about them, which may be incorrect or outdated.

Google says it acts in the ‘public interest’ when debating which content to remove, especially in cases where the right to know trumps the right to be forgotten.

In its provided examples, Google appears to be learning towards expunging results when it comes to members of the public, but standing its ground when it comes to public officials.

For example, in Hungary, Google says: “A high ranking public official asked us to remove recent articles discussing a decades-old criminal conviction. We did not remove the articles from search results.”

Meanwhile, in Latvia: “A political activist who was stabbed at a protest asked us to remove a link to an article about the incident. We have removed the page from search results for the victim's name.”

Google offers a form from its website allowing users to detail specific results they wish to see removed. Of course, removing the results from search doesn't delete them from the web, but it sure makes them harder to find.

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